Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Ending Explained

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Ending Explained.

Country: UK, USA

Genre: Drama, Tragicomedy, Crime

Release year: 2017

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Actors: F. McDormand, V. Harrelson, S. Rockwell

Awards and nominations: 133 wins in total and 235 nominations. F. McDormand – “Oscar” and BAFTA for Best Actress, “Golden Globe” for Best Actress in a Drama Film. S. Rockwell – Oscar and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor, Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. Three BAFTA awards – “Best Film”, “Best British Film” and “Best Screenplay” (M. McDonagh). Two “Golden Globe” – “Best Drama Film” and “Best Screenplay”.

The plot and meaning of the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is dedicated to the fate of a strong woman seeking justice and punishment for her daughter’s killers. It also reveals such issues as the ability of people to forgive and reconcile with each other, as well as the ability of a person to change for the better.

Plot Summary of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

An analysis of its plot will help to understand the essence of the film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”.

The action takes place in the non-existent American town of Ebbing a few months after the brutal murder of a girl. Her mother, Mildred Hayes, is unhappy with the progress of the investigation and the inaction of the police. On the way to her house, she notices three unused billboards, rents them and puts on them the phrases: “Raped before death”, “So far no arrests?” and “How come, Sheriff Willoughby?”

Frances McDormandFrances McDormand played the role of Mildrade Hayes. Frame from the film.

The billboards are discovered by police officer Jason Dixon and reported to the sheriff. Soon the whole city becomes aware of them. Most residents perceive them negatively, because the sheriff is a respected person and is terminally ill. Even her son disagrees with Mildred’s actions.

Mildred refuses to remove the billboards. The police try to get the advertiser Red Welby to take them off, but he refuses. The woman, in order to draw additional attention to the shields, asks television to film a story about them.

The Sheriff visits Mildred. From his explanation, it becomes clear that he did everything possible, but there are no clues to find a clue to the crime. At the end of the conversation, he informs the woman of his illness, but she replies that she knows about it and took this step only because it would be ineffective after Willoughby’s death.

Dixon tries to get the advertiser to take down the billboards, but the sheriff tells him to leave the guy alone. Mildred, defending herself, injures the dentist who stood up for Willoughby, and she is arrested. In the station, the woman is talking to the sheriff and from the content of the conversation it turns out that she has nothing to pay for the rent of the shields. Willoughby is taken to the hospital with an exacerbation of the disease, but before that he orders Mildred to be released.

At home, a woman recalls the last conversation with her daughter. They quarreled over the car and the mother suggested that the girl go home on foot in the evening. Angela states that she hopes to be raped along the way. Mildred replies in the same words.

Mildred talks to Charlie’s ex-husband. He is against billboards and does not want to pay for them. Charlie also reveals that a week before her death, Angela wanted to move in with him because she was tired of scandals at home, but he refused and now blames himself for this.

Mildred has nothing to pay for another month, but it turns out that an unknown person has contributed money for her.

Sam RockwellThe role of Jason Dixon was played by Sam Rockwell. Frame from the film.

Willoughby escapes from the hospital and spends the day with his wife and daughters. In the evening he kills himself. At parting, he writes a note to his wife, in which he asks not to blame Mildred for his death and explains that he does not want the family to suffer, seeing how he dies. Thanks to a happy last day, they will have only positive memories of him.

Dixon throws the advertiser out of the window because he thinks he’s responsible for Willoughby’s death. The new Sheriff Abercrombie sees this and fires the cop.

An unknown person enters Mildred’s store and threatens her. The woman then receives a letter from the former sheriff. Willoughby writes that he doesn’t give a damn about Angela’s case, but that it’s one of those crimes that are revealed completely by accident, such as when the killer boasts about him in a bar and someone hears it. He says that he liked the billboard idea, so he sent money and extended the lease.

Mildred discovers burned billboards. In retaliation, she burns down the police station at night, believing that no one is inside. However, Dixon is there, secretly coming to pick up a letter from Willoughby. In it, the sheriff explains that Jason is a good person at heart and has a chance to become an outstanding detective. In the meantime, he demonstrates to everyone his hatred of people. Willoughby advises to get rid of anger and find peace and reason in yourself. After reading the letter, Dixon does not notice that the building is on fire. At the last moment, he jumps out, but is badly burned. In doing so, he saves Angela’s case.

Woody HarrelsonWoody Harrelson played the role of Bill Willoughby, Frances McDormand played the role of Mildred. Frame from the film.

The charred Dixon is placed in the ward with the injured Red Welby. The point of this episode is to show that under the influence of the letter, the former policeman rethinks his life. He repents and apologizes. Welby forgives Jason.

Jerome comes to Mildred, who installed billboards and reports that there are spare copies left. Together they hang them up again.

Dixon is having a drink at a bar and accidentally overhears two men talking. One of them, who had previously threatened Mildred in the store, boasts of the crime he has committed. From his description of the events that took place, Jason decides that it is about Angela’s murder. He gets into a fight with a criminal, he is beaten, but he manages to scratch the enemy. The hidden meaning of his actions is to obtain DNA and send it for analysis in order to identify matches with the DNA of the girl’s killer.

Mildred finds out in a restaurant that her ex-husband burned the billboards, but does not arrange a quarrel, but forgives him.

Dixon comes to Mildred and says that perhaps the crime will be solved. However, it soon becomes known that the suspect has nothing to do with Angela’s death.

 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Ending explanation

Jason breaks the sad news to Mildred. Then he says that the man is still a criminal, and therefore deserves punishment. He offers to kill him, Mildred agrees and decides to go with him.

At the end of the film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” the characters are driving. Mildred reveals that she burned the site, to which Jason says: “Well, who else could it be?”. The meaning of these words is that he does not hold a grudge against her and is not going to take revenge.

Dixon and Mildred doubt that they want to kill the criminal and decide to make a decision upon arrival. The ending remains open: one can only guess how the trip ended and whether Angela’s killer was found, but this does not matter much. The point of the ending and the whole movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is not to show the triumph of justice over crime, but to demonstrate that people are able to reconcile and forgive each other, as well as change for the better.

The meaning of the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Long before the film was made, Martin McDonagh, on a trip to the United States, saw a number of billboards with which local residents reproached the police for their unwillingness to investigate the crime. This picture was remembered by him, and he decided to reflect it in his work in the future. The director also planned for several years to make a film about a strong woman in a difficult life situation. As a result, two ideas came together. The result was “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”.

The plot of the picture revolves around the murder of a girl, but in the end the viewer will never know who committed it. The point of the film is not to expose the criminal. The explanation for the ending in which the killer is not named is that it doesn’t matter. It could be anyone, as McDonagh himself spoke about. The story he tells the viewer is not about that.

Lucas Hedges, Nick SearcyLucas Hedges as Robbie, Nick Searcy as Father Montgomery. Frame from the film.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” shows a woman who blames herself for her daughter’s death and is willing to do anything to punish the killers. For this, she challenges the local sheriff, whom she respects. In the name of this goal, she opposes almost the entire city and even her own son and ex-husband. At the end of the film, she does not get an answer to the question that worries her, but comes to terms with the situation and lets her go, although she continues to hope that justice will be done.

The second theme of “Three Billboards on the Border of Ebbing, Missouri” is the forgiveness and reconciliation of people. Mildred and Willoughby, despite the seeming conflict between them, do not hate each other, but, on the contrary, deeply respect each other. Despite the fact that the woman is unfair to him, the sheriff does not have negative feelings towards her and even pays the rent of billboards for a month.

Dixon threatens Welby throughout the film, harasses him, tries to beat him up, and ends up injuring him by throwing him out of a window. However, later, being in the hospital in the same room with him, the policeman repents and asks for forgiveness, and the advertiser finds the strength to accept the apology.

In the first part of the film, Mildred quarrels with her ex-husband, who blames her and himself for the death of her daughter. The man even burns billboards, but the woman, having learned about it, does not want to quarrel and forgives him.

Throughout Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Mildred confronts Jason Dixon. The police officer seeks to force her to take down the billboards and harms her friends, while the woman taunts him because he is under the influence of his mother, abuses alcohol and hates black people. At the end of the film, the relationship between them changes. Jason knows that Mildred burned down the site and maimed him, but forgives her. Before that, he sacrifices himself in a bar and allows himself to be beaten to solve the crime, and then gives the woman hope by informing her that the killer may have been found. Mildred sees that the policeman is changing and he has good features, and therefore forgives him and reconciles with him.

Peter DinklageJames is played by Peter Dinklage. Frame from the film.

Dixon himself also plays an important role in the film. The hidden meaning of this character is to show that even a bad person has good things, and therefore he is able to change. In the first half of the picture, the director portrays a bad cop, an alcoholic and a racist, who beats out testimony from those arrested and is heavily influenced by his mother.

At the end of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Dixon changes. The reason for this is partly the dismissal, but the main influence was the letter of Willoughby. It affected the policeman so much that, while at the station during the fire, he sacrifices himself and saves Angela’s case. Then he repents and asks for forgiveness from Welby, whom he inflicted severe injuries, and in a bar he allows himself to be beaten in order to solve the murder.

The final minutes of the film also show that Dixon has changed. He makes it clear to Mildred that he immediately understood who set the fire, but is not going to take revenge on her. When the woman asks if he still wants to kill the criminal, Jason replies that he does not know. The old Dixon would have answered in the affirmative.

The finale of the drama remains open. It is not known how Mildred and Dixon’s trip will end. We can only assume that with a high probability they will not bring their plans to the end, because both characters have changed in a positive way. However, other interpretations of this final scene have the right to life.

billboards at the borderFrame from the film.


Similar films

  • “Lie low in Bruges” (USA, UK, 2007). After a failed mission, two unfortunate killers receive an order from their boss to take refuge in the Belgian city of Bruges and wait for a new assignment.
  • Captives (USA, 2013). The kidnapped girl’s father, tired of the inaction of the police, takes hostage the main suspect, against whom there is no evidence.
  • Goodbye Baby Goodbye (USA, 2007) Two private detectives search for a kidnapped four-year-old girl and endanger their own careers and lives.
Add a comment